First, I’m always leery of predictions -- especially considering how rapidly things change today -- so I’m skeptical of the Post's Zephyr Teachout’s conclusions about the future of education as we know it. The Chronicle's Laurie Fendrich makes several good points in her response, but there is one particular statement she makes that I take exception to:
“Those who embrace distance learning as a reasonable substitute for students going to college argue their case in the name of efficiency and productivity.”
We serve our students by focusing on our commitment to accessible education. Doing so has allowed us to support our students through particular avenues, such as managing class size, promoting student to faculty interaction, and maintaining faculty connections.
What it all comes down to is the fact that it’s not an online degree we’re offering -- it’s an educational degree. In our opinion, when it comes to adapting to the new technologies and trends that become available, such as online courses and distance learning, institutions need to stay committed to just that: education. Access is about cultivating what works, while also embracing the new so that quality education is available to more students.
The more that institutions of higher education focus on access -- access to quality education, faculty, and all the resources that a school has -- the better and more educated its students become.